The large gathering had a family feel - everything from very young children to the aged, mingling amicably. At one point I looked behind me and was surprised to see the sea of people who had quietly amassed in the short space of time since our arrival. Everyone stood for the two hours, intently listening, clapping and cheering for everything.
When 'Dooks' eventually came forward to the mike with his arm wrapped around the shoulder of David St. Clair (the candidate who was attacked, beaten and subsequently hospitalised before elections), most of the large crowd surged forward to the stage, chanting "Winston, Winston!" Subsequently, basically each paragraph he uttered was punctuated by supportive cheers and applause.
There were one or two moments where I felt moved. One I can't remember (must have been something someone said) - but it gave me goosebumps. The other was at the end, when a performer came to sing a song called "Broken World" (and about how we can fix it together). The female MC asked us to connect in some way with the people at our sides. People started to hold hands. I held the hands of my friend Charlotte (on my right) and a man I didn't know (on my left). At one point the crowd to the front raised their connected hands and everyone followed, resulting in a wave of upheld, joined hands rippling from front to back of the gathering. It was the first time I've experienced this.
It was one of those "We are the world" moments which are too soppy for some, but deeply moving for others. I noticed people crying. One older woman a short way off from us stood staring ahead, a large tear running down her cheek, glistening like the silver trail of a snail.
I was not moved to feel patriotic about T & T ... but I was touched by the genuine sense of togetherness and respect of the people and by the sense of gratitude and determination emitted by those on stage. It was a peaceful, communal, 'old time feel' of an evening. Everyone left smiling, or at least looking satisfied on some level.
Labels: Trinidad and Tobago